When we go to Las Vegas, one of the games we always look for is the Deal or No Deal interactive game. Not the slot machine, but the one where you have to spin the wheel and land on the briefcase in order to play the actual Deal or No Deal game. Once you start playing and you make your arrangement with the banker for a deal, at the end you have the chance to play Double or Nothing. You don’t have to play it, you can just take your guaranteed money and get the heck out of there despite the prospect of being that much richer. Mike Trout took his guaranteed money and got the heck out of there. While the metaphor to the game suggests Mike Trout could have got “nothing,” I know that’s not true at all, I just wanted to talk about the Deal or No Deal game. Trout could have earned in the neighborhood of $40-$60 million through arbitration, and after that is now anybody’s guess. If you’re paying the healthy Mike Trout of now to a free agent contract, maybe you go with a ten-year, $350 million deal and become a free agent at 36. Instead, Mike Trout signs a six-year extension worth $144.5 million and will become a free agent at 29.
Trout breakdown with #Angels: $5M signing bonus, $5.25M, $15.25M, $19.25M, $33.25M, $33.25M, $33.25M. Full no-trade.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 29, 2014
Trout also gets game suite for 20 #Angels games per year beginning in ’15. $2M of signing bonus paid within 30 days, $3M before Oct. 15.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 29, 2014
Keep in mind, when Trout becomes free agent at 29, he will build from foundation of $33.25M salaries with #Angels from 2018-20.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 29, 2014
I like Rosenthal’s point about the last three years of Trout’s contract, and while it’s nowhere near close to paying the $5-6 million per Wins Above Replacement might deserve in this current market, it sure as heck is a pretty darn good payday. If you went by the $ per WAR method, Trout’s market value would be in the $50-60MM a year range, which is stupid money, but it’s an idea of how good he’s been.
That Mike Trout will become a Free Agent at 29 instead of 26 did make some on social media upset Friday afternoon and evening, noting how big of a payday Trout could have missed (double the guaranteed money, $200MM more guaranteed money). While I agree he probably missed a PowerBall-sized payday, anybody that’s been paying attention to contract signings know that even if you’re in your thirties, teams will have no problem signing you to an irresponsibly large deal. Isn’t that right, Miguel Cabrera? Now, it’s not Miguel Cabrera’s fault the Detroit Tigers wanted to throw that money at him. Someone offers you that kind of guaranteed money to play baseball going into your age 31 season, you take it. With Mike Trout, the decision was a little more difficult at age 22. Even if Trout plays as 80% of the player he is now for the next six years, you don’t think the market will pony up a ten-year deal? Front offices don’t judge players by runs, runs batted in, and probably have better metrics than batting average to use, so they’ll take a look at the whole package. Hopefully, we’re beginning to be witnesses to one of the Top 15 MLB position player careers ever, and if that’s the player Trout becomes, he’s going to deserve a big ton of money at age 29.
I’d be worried for Trout if baseball were on the decline, but as it catches up to American Football in revenues, I think as long as Mike Trout keeps playing baseball at a Hall of Fame level, he’s getting his now and will continue to cash in later. What would have been interesting in addition to the contract Trout would have received at 26 would have been the contract he would have also received in his late-30’s. That’s probably a topic for the off-season when news slows way down, or in thirteen years when I’m in my forties. Oh my gosh, I’m going to be in my forties in thirteen years.
Earlier I wrote about how you could validate voting for each Giant on the MLB All Star Ballot, now it’s probably an appropriate time to list my actual All Stars. Since voting doesn’t close until the 4th of July, there’s going to be plenty of room for hot streaks, and hot piles of slumps. As with the online ballot itself, I’ll give you my players for each position, and we’ll leave it at that for now.
1B — Chris Davis (14 HR, .420 OBP, .458 wOBA, 190 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR)
SS — Jhonny Peralta (4 HR, .379 OBP, .364 wOBA, 127 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR)
OF — Mike Trout (9 HR, 9 SB, .400 wOBA, 157 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR)
OF — Jose Bautista (11 HR, .408 wOBA, 158 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR)
DH — David Ortiz (7 HR, .397 OBP, .429 wOBA, 168 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR)
C — Buster Posey (6 HR, .395 OBP, .385 wOBA, 152 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR)
OF — Carlos Gonzalez (11 HR, 8 SB, .390 OBP, .413 wOBA, 154 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR)
OF — Justin Upton (14 HR, .387 OBP, .410 wOBA, 165 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR)
Feel free to put your ballot or changes in the comments because I can see how you might like player B over player A. Short season so far, lots of time left before I have to decide who I’m voting in 35 times.
The regular season begins
this Sunday tomorrow at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. Let us preview the postseason, where the best team doesn’t always win due to the randomness of how the short series will go. It’s a first team to eleven wins once the DS begins, and normally the team that catches fire tends to do the celebrating. Also in my analysis, the team that scores more runs tend to win games. I’ll start with who I have going into the playoffs, then the predictions of the resulting postseason series. After that, I’ll go into regular season awards.
NL Playoff Seeding
1. Washington Nationals
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Atlanta Braves
5. San Francisco Giants
Wild-Card Play-in Game
Atlanta beats San Francisco
Atlanta beats Washington
Cincinnati beats Los Angeles
Cincinnati beats Atlanta
AL Playoff Seeding
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Texas Rangers
Wild-Card Play-in Game
Tampa Bay beats Texas
Detroit beats Tampa Bay
Toronto beats LA of A
Detroit beats Toronto
World Series (game will be in AL Park when AL wins ASG)
Detroit beats Cincinnati
Don’t worry Tiger fans, I’m sure my predictions won’t be correct!
Regular Season Awards
I will go into who the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year for both leagues will be. These will also probably be wrong.
AL MVP — Mike Trout
Asking me if I’m mad, bro? Nah, not mad, but let’s say Mike Trout does even 80% of what he did in 2012 in 2013, and his team gets to the playoffs, the voters are going to give him his “redemption,” and feel good that “see, we don’t hate advanced stats,” as we roll our collective eyes together. Sophomore slump? Maybe a little, but the only thing that will stop this fish is if he gets hurt playing the game.
NL MVP — Justin Upton
They say a change of scenery can do wonders for a player, and how about playing with an organization that wants you? I’d say that’s a good start. I think Upton will have a career year, players like Braun and Posey will regress a little, and Upton will find his team in the playoffs. Justin Upton may not have the best year of everybody, but I think he gets the award.
AL Cy Young — Justin Verlander
Kind of like Trout, he’s only going to get stopped by an injury. He should continue to rack up the pitcher wins, satisfying the old school, and his team will make the playoffs all with lots of money, and lots of strikeouts. Probably not many multi-homer against games though. Verlander is just excellent.
NL Cy Young — Clayton Kershaw
Dickey was a great story in 2012, but I still side with the overall metrics a bit on Kershaw, believing he got snubbed by just a little bit, nothing too controversial. Kershaw, like Verlander, will be getting plenty of pitcher wins behind a boosted offense, and he’s still really, really good. Oh, and his team will be going to the playoffs so that equals instant votes.
AL Rookie of the Year — Jackie Bradley Jr.
Shot up the prospect lists in 2012 into 2013, and is projected to start with the team. For the kid, the defense will be getting peoples attention, while the stick may not be able to do anything super special, it’ll be enough. Lots of names for both RoY awards, JBJ just happens to be my guess right now.
NL Rookie of the Year — Zack Wheeler
Wheeler will not come up until June and he’ll still get the award. Dominating the minors, and yes, I understand the pain he’s going to cause Giants fans, but the kid is good, and will be going after his opposition from the get-go with heat and curveballs and breaking balls and strikeouts.
Let’s hear what your predictions are! Pretty much anything goes before the season gets going.
Idea: Rank the best individual seasons of the 2012 MLB regular season (Spring Training, Minor Leagues, and Postseason are not included), while considering offensive and defensive facets of the game.
Consider: Using the individual metrics to measure individual performance; full avoidance of projecting results for shortened seasons, and past years performance to justify or dictate standings.
This is not: “Most Valuable” anything. Rather, this is “best,” like Baseball America does, so there is no confusion as to what I am ranking. It is also not a “this is a ranking of who I want in 2013, or wanted in any other year.”
This is: My opinion, and will be disagreed with by many.
20. R.A. Dickey (233.2 IP, 8.86 K/9, 3.39 tERA, 4.6 fWAR, 5.6 rWAR) – Had I considered age in this ranking, maybe Dickey would have been higher, but I’ll let someone else do that ranking. I think it’s still cool that we could have some more years to experience his dominance over hitters though.
19. David Price (211.0 IP, 8.74 K/9, 3.23 tERA, 5.1 fWAR, 6.4 rWAR) – Really had trouble ranking 19-21 with the three pitchers, but in the end, I just liked Price’s numbers the best
18. Aaron Hill (26 HR, 14 SB, .375 wOBA, 6.2 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – What a change of scenery can do for you, Aaron Hill looks like he’s found his comfort zone in Phoenix after being traded from Toronto.
17. Cliff Lee (211.0 IP, 1.19 BB/9, 3.21 tERA, 4.9 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR) – Poor Clifton didn’t get a lot of love because of the W-L record he sported, but it’s not his fault his team didn’t score runs for him, even if he was on for most of the season.
16. Michael Bourn (26 2B, 42 SB, .326 wOBA, 6.4 fWAR, 6.0 rWAR) – The speedy center fielder does his job tearing up the basepaths and covering his part out in CF. Jim Bowman suggested the Giants could be a fit, I think not. ($)
15. Felix Hernandez (232.0 IP, 8.65 K/9, 3.21 tERA, 6.1 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – The King may be the only true royalty in Seattle now, but he should have an army of arms coming to help out soon.
14. Aramis Ramirez (27 HR, 50 2B, .384 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 5.4 rWAR) – May be the most underappreciated season of the guys listed in this top percentage, but the BBWAA recognized it, and he finished 9th in NL MVP voting.
13. Yadier Molina (22 HR, 12 SB, .375 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – I know what you’re thinking: A Molina that steals bases, not just prevents SB? Yea, he does that, too.
12. Adrian Beltre (36 HR, 33 2B, .388 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – I felt Heyward edged the 3B of Texas in the way he manned his position, and in the way he contributed on the bases, but still a great year for the guy that loves the headrubs.
11. Jason Heyward (27 HR, 21 SB, .351 wOBA, 6.6 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR) – Should Heyward be able to step up his game to another level in his age 23 season, he could get real scary.
10. Clayton Kershaw (227.2 IP, 9.05 K/9, 2.95 tERA, 5.5 fWAR, 6.2 rWAR) – I also struggled between JV vs. CK, but in the end, felt other peripherals not listed evened things out, giving the edge to Justin over Clayton with IP being the tiebreaker.
9. Justin Verlander (238.1 IP, 9.03 K/9, 3.43 tERA, 6.8 fWAR, 7.5 rWAR) – I really struggled where to start to include the pitchers, but here seemed like a good spot. Verlander is still good.
8. Chase Headley (31 HR, 17 SB, .378 wOBA, 7.5 fWAR, 6.0 rWAR) – If this were a “best second half of 2012” post, Headley might be #1.
7. David Wright (21 HR, 15 SB, .376 wOBA, 7.8 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – If this were a “best first half of 2012” post, Wright might be #1.
6. Miguel Cabrera (44 HR, 40 2B, .417 wOBA, 7.1 fWAR, 6.9 rWAR) – The dude’s just oozing power, and while the change of positions is a great story, the playing of the position itself must be considered in this ranking.
5. Andrew McCutchen (31 HR, 20 SB, .403 wOBA, 7.4 fWAR, 7.0 rWAR) – Worthy of being on the cover of a video game, I’m just glad Pittsburgh has had someone to cheer about.
3. Ryan Braun (41 HR, 30 SB, .413 wOBA, 7.9 fWAR, 6.8 rWAR) – Probably got a lot of flack for the PED-related stuff at the end of the season in 2011, but a 40-30 season will never stop being impressive.
2. Buster Posey (24 HR, .406 wOBA, 8.0 fWAR, 7.2 rWAR) – It’s no secret that the catcher position is an incredibly important one, and when your backstop is producing at the levels Posey is, well that warrants some respect. Bias possible.
1. Mike Trout (30 HR, 49 SB, .409 wOBA, 10.0 fWAR, 10.7 rWAR) – If 21 year olds are just getting started, in the Majors, it’s difficult to fathom where he goes from here.
The National League was up first discussing guys like Ryan Braun, Buster Posey, and Yadier Molina were discussed by MLB Network, and Andrew McCutchen as well as Chase Headley had some discussion from the crowd in a very underrated and underreported race for the NL MVP. And it went to:
Buster Posey! Or as we like to call him around these parts: #MVPosey.
Posey garnered 27 of the 32 first place votes, and only one third place vote from a writer in Chicago. Half of his second-place votes came from Milwaukee voters who chose Braun for the MVP on their ballot. Posey was at a party for what he said was a charity event his wife was putting on. It is well recorded that in two of Buster’s three seasons, and in both of those seasons in which he’s been healthy, he has carried his team to the postseason, and the World Series where they would achieve the dream. As proud as I am to have this guy on the team I root fot most, the only thing I can think about right now is how that price tag of his is going up up up. No doubt it will be a goal of the ownership to make Posey a Giant for as long as possible whether it’s done taking out arbitration years to a monster contract, or taking it year-by-year and then signing the MVP to a monster contract.
Then there was the AL MVP, which wasn’t talked about that much so who cares who wins this one, right? Just foolin. Unfortunately this seemed to turn fans against each other and made for an “old school vs. new school” narrative that became nauseatingly old at a Billy Hamilton pace. In the end, let’s not forget the award does not change our opinion on these players and both of these guys are spectacular players for their teams and for baseball. And the much publicized result:
Of course my feeling is that the voters got it wrong, but this was an incredible time for baseball to become exposed to more advanced metrics than it probably cared for. The debate between the two is not over, but the writers have spoken for this year, and the title goes to the Triple Crown winner from Venezuela.
So now hopefully we can move on to talk about other baseball things, like how does our favorite team trade for Mike Trout. Go for it, Bleacher Report.
You shouldn’t have to do something like this, but the old school people seem to be refusing WAR like a teenager refuses their vegetables. So let me modify the argument a little bit just from the batter’s box WITHOUT using the hated “Wins Above Replacement.”
I just counted those stats each led in for your convenience, so you wouldn’t have to count. One might argue that from all these stats you look at that overall it’s kind of equal anyway, while Cabrera might have more favorable power numbers, it isn’t like one guy is blowing out the other… and where one is leading in an individual stat, you have an answer for it from the other guy. Lots of runs? Look at the RBI blowout! More total bases? How about all those double plays you grounded into? Look at how much he doubles! Look how he never triples! And so on. My only drawback to the whole argument is that the advanced stats at the bottom slightly favor Trout over Cabrera. I guess that’s where I really run into a brick wall with the people that hate WAR, because if they hate WAR, what will make them consider things like wOBA and wRC+, two other popular advanced metrics?
Oh well, I tried. And I totally forgot Cabrera has one more positional change for the betterment of his team than Trout does, ugh. What we should all agree on even with that team move though, is that the MVP is more than just what’s in the batter’s box, but it also considers other facets of the game. Clubhouse, OK, but baserunning and defense for sure, please, because that also is pretty important for a baseball player when considering the full body of work.
The AL MVP debate has become pretty polarizing, and in more than just a “our fanbase versus the world” type of debate, but one in which we argue with advanced statistics, the significance of play in later months when more people are paying attention, and changing positions for the possibility of a better outcome for your team. If you read Bob Nightengale’s article yesterday, then you have an inside look as to how the Miguel Cabrera for MVP camp is thinking. And as he and Buster Olney notes, a lot of players and coaches are pulling for him pretty hard him. Consider as Nightengale has said that Pablo, and Josh Hamilton have been texting him, and all-around nice guy Jim Thome has supported him, and of course teammates like Prince Fielder and Delmon Young on are his side, that should be no surprise whatsoever. Prince calls the fact we’re having the debate “embarrassing,” but I think he should be given a pass because he’s on the field with Cabrera. It’s not his job to go home and dissect the numbers.
Bob Nightengale though, is one of the national media members who is thinking like a uniformed player, and the people on Twitter tried last night to let him know his thinking was flawed. From the beginning:
“Pulling away” never shows up in his article, so I wonder if that’s an editor’s work, but Nightengale I doubt had any problem with the verbiage.
Confirmed: he thinks Miguel Cabrera is putting the bow on the present that is the MVP award. Also confirmed: he loves the triple crown.
I thought this was an excellent time for Bob to come out and make a Twitter-stance against Sabermetrics, but I believe he was busy watching the Tigers game at the time.
That highlighted tweet really is key to understand the Miguel Cabrera camp: stats in September are more important than any other month, therefore Trout < Cabrera.
And there’s no pressure in baseball games from April-July. Those high leverage at bats, on the basepaths, and moments in the field you had in those games? Sorry.
Sometimes when he’s not joking around, the @DodgersGM account makes solid points, and here was no exception.
Another point that is being argued. However, I would not go to say that the move is being penalized, but more that it is not being given much value. I don’t believe that constitutes for a “penalty” as a lot of people are suggesting.
It is not hard to understand any of the arguments Nightengale and people that reside in the same camp as he does is making — because I believe everybody started their careers of baseball analysis there — but they should be the basis for saying Miguel Cabrera has had a spectacular season, not for him being the MVP, because that belongs to Mike Trout. Let me link some articles to you, both from the pro-Trout and pro-Cabrera faction that I think try to do good work in giving the MVP to the logical choice.
What I’m Reading (Subscriptions might be required for the first and last articles)
Keith Law — Mike Trout is the only rational choice for AL MVP
Brian Kenny — The triple crown is nonsense
Bill Shaikin’s latest from the LA Times — Two camps stake out turf in Trout-Cabrera debate
Russell Carleton — A sabermetric case for Miguel Cabrera’s MVP Candidacy